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Can You Plant Moldy Potatoes – Is It Safe?

If you are a potato grower or aspiring to be one, you may know that you can grow potatoes by planting parts of them into the ground and treating them as if they are seeds. They are called seed potatoes. With this technique comes to some tips that every potato grower must know—specifically, the qualities of a seed potato that’s safe to grow. You may be wondering, can you plant moldy potatoes?

You can plant moldy tomatoes however it can be unsafe and lead to disease and stunted growth of the plant. Mold can spread between all of the sprouts underground and infect all potatoes. Most potato growers use seed potatoes, which are just potatoes with sprouts that can be planted directly into the ground.

Continue reading to learn all about potatoes and the safest ways to grow them.

What Are Seed Potatoes?

A seed potato is simply a potato or piece of one that has a tiny sprout growing out of it, known as an eye. Most people will source their seed potatoes from their last year’s harvest or organically from a farmer’s market. It is not smart to buy them from supermarkets as they can be treated with preservatives that can infect your potatoes.

Often, supermarket potatoes are treated with growth inhibitors that prevent them from growing any eyes or being able to sprout. If you decide to pick seed potatoes from your own garden, you must follow the steps listed below. Carefully examine them for mold or any apparent diseases. Planting moldy or diseased seed potatoes will affect the outcome of your entire harvest. 

How To Produce Your Own Seed Potatoes

  1. Obtain several potatoes with an eye (preferably more than one) on them. As mentioned above, source them organically or from your last year’s harvest. Any non-organic potato may have growth inhibitors that will prevent its eyes from sprouting. 
  2. Pick a time in the late winter or early spring, giving yourself plenty of time before planting and not too much time that your seed potatoes will rot or become unusable. Typically, the best time is when you are getting ready to start your seeds for your other crops. 
  3. Place your potatoes on a flat surface where they will not be bothered. Make sure they aren’t positioned near any windows where they will receive direct sunlight. They must be left in a room temperature climate. Leave them there for around ten days or until the eyes have sprouted. 
  4. If the eyes have all sprouted, you are ready for the next step. Cut your potatoes into smaller pieces (preferably around 1-2 inches in size). Every small piece must have at least one sprouted eye on it. You can discard or compost any scraps without an eye on them. 
  5. Lastly, Place your seed potatoes on a tray such as a cookie sheet or a serving platter. Like step 3, allow them to sit, but this time only for 2-3 days or until they are fully dried out. 
  6. Once fully dry, you have your seed potatoes. If you aren’t ready to plant them immediately, make sure they are stored somewhere dry, dark, and fairly cool. A root cellar would be perfect. You can also grab an old picnic cooler and place them inside that your garage or on your porch. 

Diseases That Seed Potatoes Can Carry

Every now and then, potatoes can get a disease. Just like other plants, there are a few common one’s that they carry including:

Late Blight 

This disease is very commonly known in the potato growing world. Seed potatoes usually pick this disease up from being overwintered and not planted soon enough. Late Blight is a fungal disease that is described as fungal spores. It can be spread simply through the air. It will ultimately deteriorate the foliage of the potato plant. 

Potato Virus Y

It can be hard to tell if this virus infects a seed potato or not. Sometimes they won’t show any symptoms of it, but mold, fungus, or discoloration can be an indicator that something is wrong. Potato Virus Y is spread through aphids and can be deadly to the plant. If your seed potatoes contain this virus, they will carry it out to the next growing season. 

Potato Leafroll Virus

The name of this disease says it all. It’s a condition that causes the leaves on the potato plant to roll and or become pale. It transfers from seed potato to seed potato through aphids. Tubers are more susceptible to this disease if they are overwintered or rotted before being planted. It will cause a potato plant to produce a very small harvest, if any at all. 

Other Crops That Can Be Grown From Scraps

  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Green onions
  • Celery
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Avocados

Final Thoughts

Overall, it is possible to plant moldy seed potatoes. You could even cut off the moldy parts and then plant them, but it’s not a good idea if you want a large and healthy harvest of potatoes. Mold is a very obvious sign that a seed or crop has been overwintered or diseased somehow.

Once planted into the dirt, it will continue to mold and spread to the other seed potatoes or crops in the garden. Mold is telling you that something is wrong and that your seed potatoes shouldn’t be trusted. Above is a step by step process to either buying or choosing seed potatoes from your own harvest and preparing them correctly to cause a sprout.

Don’t wait too long to plant once a sprout is developed and your seed potatoes are dried out. Waiting too long can cause mold. In conclusion, as long as you are smart with your seed potatoes and you care for them properly, you should be able to yield a beautiful harvest out of them.